Technology

File Server vs Cloud Hosting: Pros and Cons

Both a file server and the cloud come with pros and cons, so deciding which one to use for your business can be challenging. You may even want to choose a file server for some operations and the cloud for others. Depending on your business’s individual needs, a hybrid solution could be the best answer. At the end of the day, there is no one right solution for all. It very much depends on your organization’s particular needs and wants. You will have to consider things like the cost of the different options, the level of security that each option provides, which option allows you to comply with regulations, and much more. 

To help you decide whether a file server or cloud hosting is the right solution for you, check out the following insightful article, in which you will find the advantages and disadvantages for both. You can then informedly determine which option is right for your business.

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What is a file server?

 A file server is a central server in a computer network. It provides file systems, or parts of a file system, to connected clients. Users, therefore, have a central storage place for their files on internal data media, which is accessible to any user with authorization. Configuration options enable admin users to set which files can and cannot be seen and opened by specific users or groups, and to see whether that data can additionally be edited or deleted. When file servers are connected to the internet and accordingly configured, users can access files via the local network and from remote access. All of the popular modern operating systems, like Windows, macOS, and Linux, can be used on a file server. However, the devices that are available in the network must be compatible with the operating system. File servers are used for file management and storage as well as a backup server and a depository for programs that are accessible to multiple network participants. 

What is a cloud server? 

A cloud server is typically a highly powerful virtual information technology infrastructure that is able to host data, applications, and other elements. A cloud server can also be a physical infrastructure with virtual machines. Cloud servers are created by special software that divides or subdivides the physical server into multiple layers that are able to act as virtual servers. XaaS components like infrastructure as a service are often used to store extensive data and process large workloads. Any function stored on the cloud can be easily accessed with the interface. Essentially, cloud servers are infrastructure as a service (IaaS) models. 

On-premises File Servers, Cloud Hosting Options, and Hybrid Solutions 

The primary benefits of a file server include a centralized file namespace, drive letter access, and faster performance with LAN rather than WAN. Meanwhile, cloud hosting has many advantages including access from anywhere, improved IT efficiencies, and ease of management. Before we take a look in detail at more of the pros and cons associated with an on-premises file server and cloud hosting, you should know that it is possible to bridge the gap between the two with a hybrid solution. With a hybrid option, you get the security and speed provided by on-premise storage combined with the long-distance reliability and versatility of a cloud platform. Triofox is one of the best hybrid solutions available, as it adds secure remote access, file sharing, and disaster prevention, as well as recovery to on-premises file servers, with easy cloud migration to private cloud storage. 

The Cost of a File Server Versus Cloud Hosting 

Cloud hosting is generally more cost-effective than using an on-premises file server. With the latter, it requires a significant amount of long-term energy and maintenance to run at full capacity. Also, software and licenses need to be regularly updated. With a file server, you will need to have an on-site IT team. All of that costs a lot. Furthermore, scaling up on file servers can be very costly due to the need to purchase additional hardware. On the other hand, when your business uses cloud hosting, things like maintenance, software, updates, and general troubleshooting are all taken care of for you, dramatically reducing your costs in the long term. 

File Server Versus Cloud Hosting for Security 

While cloud hosting has become much more secure in recent years, it is still thought of as being slightly less secure than on-premises file serving. Cloud vendors have robust innovations to defend against things like DDoS attacks and malware, but even with such high-level security, the security offered by file serving is that extra bit safer. 

File Server Versus Cloud Hosting for Time 

In any type of business, time equals money. So, determining whether cloud hosting or a file server is best for time-saving and efficiency needs to be taken into account. With an on-premises file server, users can access documents and download large files with no or little latency. On the other hand, depending on factors like internet speed and where servers are located, companies can experience high latency when retrieving files from the cloud. However, when organizations use file servers and are in the process of customizing and scaling company storage and file sharing requirements, it can result in a longer implementation process. With cloud hosting, implementation and build-out can be completed quickly. 

File Server Versus Cloud Hosting for Compliance 

If your industry is subject to compliance and mandates, like the CCPA or GDPR, a dedicated file server can ensure your sensitive records remain on-site in accordance with compliance mandates. It can be much more challenging for cloud storage alone to meet the security requirements of some compliance mandates, such as HIPAA. However, it is not impossible to comply when using cloud hosting, but ensure you check your cloud service’s security to make certain it complies with regulations. 

An Overview of File Server Advantages 

Many of the advantages of file servers have been explored above, but let us break things down so you can have an easy overview of file server advantages. File servers provide:

  •   Convenient file sharing.
  •   Remote access.
  •   A high degree of clarity.
  •   Easy organization of the whole file inventory.
  •   Collaboration without the problem of version conflicts.
  •   Data protection and security.

It should now be clear how valuable a file server can be. However, many businesses underestimate just how much work is involved in setting up and managing a file server, and that is where most of the downsides lie. Without careful advanced planning, the hardware could be stretched to its limits after only a short period of time. Problems can also happen when the directory and folder structure are not clear, or if no folder structure even exists. 

An Overview of Cloud Hosting Advantages 

Cloud hosting provides the same capabilities as an on-site server, but a cloud infrastructure can be virtual, physical, or hybrid, which means it provides greater choice and flexibility. Cloud hosting offers many advantages. For instance, a cloud server can provide:

  •   The capacity to process intensive tasks and workloads while also storing large amounts of data.
  •   Unlimited scalability in all factors.
  •   Better stability.
  •   Uninterrupted levels of communication.
  •   The ability to quickly deploy software and apps as and when needed.
  •   Convenient shared cloud hosting plans.

As seen, there are both pros and cons to file servers and cloud hosting. Another potential issue with cloud hosting is your business will switch from capital expenditure to operating costs, so it is vital that you work out what costs you will incur operating a cloud server. You need to make sure that your investment in the cloud provides sufficient returns. You also need to select the right provider. If you do not, you could face problems like downtime and reliability issues. However, with a reputable cloud provider, you can have reliable and secure access all of the time. 

Finding the Best Solution for Your Business 

Sometimes, a hybrid solution is the best option. Other times, either a file server or cloud hosting option is the best choice. At the end of the day, which option is best for your company very much depends on your individual requirements. Many of today’s companies cherry-pick the best parts of file servers and cloud hosting and apply them by purpose. For example, an organization like a healthcare firm would have to store private data on-site for compliance reasons, but it could host non-critical functions to the cloud. If your business has small data requirements and limited capital, it could make sense to go with cloud hosting. However, as your business scales, you need to keep an eye on your processes to determine whether it is best to alter them. 

Before making your server decision, you should also review which tasks and data are best kept on-site from a security point of view. Look at each area of your business and see how it can benefit from different file-server and cloud-hosting options so you can determine which option is right for your business.

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